H. M. (Henry Marie) Brackenridge.

Voyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.2) online

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Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeVoyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.2) → online text (page 23 of 25)
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mit an individual of such influence as Carrera, whose views were
unknown and probably basely misrepresented, to interfere; per-


haps endanger the success of an undertaking so important.* At
all events, it is not for us to decide in the hasty manner that many
of us have done. Have we had no party broils among ourselves,
that we should thus haughtily condemn ] There is still the charge
against Puerrydon of being at the head of a military despotism,
or republic, as some have called it. I put it to the good sense of
any one, in such a state of things, who is likely to be the military
de.«pot, the one who is at the head of the civil government, or the
man who has the command of the army, who has dazzled
the people by brilliant success, who is received in the different
cities through which he passes, with triumphs and every
demonstration of public admiration? This man is San Martin,
thi liberator of Chili. When to his good fortune and talents,
he adds the character of a virtuous man, is it reasonable to
suppose that he will not be looked to as the first man of the
republic 1 What has been related to me of this man leads me
almost to believe that South America, too, has her Washing-
ton. When San Martin restored Chili to liberty and inde-
pendence, he was tendered the supreme directorship by the cabildo,
but this he magnanimously declined, declaring that bis business
was completed, that he was about to leave them to form a govern-
ment for themselves ! To avoid the honors which were preparing
for him at St. Jago, he stole out unobserved on his return to Buenos
Ayres, but was overtaken by a deputation, requesting him, at least,
to accept the sum of twenty thousand dollars, for the purpose of
bearing his expenses. This he positively refused. On his approach
to Buenos Ayres, every preparation was made by the inhabitants
to receive him in the most distinguished manner; twenty thousand
people waited on the road at which he was to enter ! The Chilians
in one of the first acts of their government, voted a sum of

• I learned, while at Buenos Ayres, that bis expedition failed on account
of a quarrel between him and the agent of the merchants by whom it was
fitted out in the United States. He was hinuelf not permitted to go to Chili,
because it was justly feared that he would set to work to kindle up the
former dissentioni.


money to repay the republic of La Plata, the expense of the expe-
dition, and then by consent of the latter took the army into their
own service : San Martin returned to assume the command, and
the manner in which he was received by the grateful inhabitants
of Santiago, has been detailed in our newspapers. It was not un-
like the reception given to our own Washington in Philadelphia.
It is only in popular governments, that a real triumph can ever take
place ; it is only here that this genuine and highest of all earthly
rewards, can await the virtuous and the brave. — ^The independent
republic of La Plata and Chili, through San Martin, have, in all
probability, by this time, given liberty and independence to their
brethren of Peru. -m.^, I'ioiu ' >i)

Although the sentiment in favor of the patriots, through the
United States, is almost universal, and seems to become each day
more earnest, yet there are a few who pretend to advocate a cold
indifFerence, and even speak of the patriots in the same terms that
our enemies, during our revolutionary war, used to sp«ak of us.
The patriots are called rebels, insurgents, and we are gravely ad-
vised to hold them in contempt. I would ask how long is it since
we have got up a little in the world, that we should thus look
down upon our poor relations ? Can we bestow epithets upon these
men, without, at the same time, casting the severest reproach upon
ourselves 1 No — they are now, as we once were, nobly contend-
ing against oppressors or invaders, in a cause sanctified by justice,
in a cause more just than ours — for where we had one reason to
complain, they have ten thousand* This cold blooded indiffei*-

• I have refiainod from entering into the question of the right of tl|e
colonies to declare themselves independent of Spain. Never was there a
cause more easily supported. On the side of Spain there is nothing but
lawless force. On an attentive examination of the English writers against
our right to declare ourselves independent of the British government, I
find these things distinctly admitted by them as incontrovertible : That
the relative condition of the colony to the colonizing state, is not the same
as that of a mere province, partakes moro of that of allies, and having dis-
tinct interests from the mother country, may lawfully throw off its autho-
rity, which a province, under no circumstances, can. "As the colonies
were not conveyed to distant <roantries in ord«r to be made slaves, or


ence to the fate of our fellow men, is unworthy of us. We sym-
pathised with the Spaniards, when lawlessly invaded by France,
we sympathised with Russia, we now sympathise with France,
and have we no feeling for our brethren of the South ? — Those who
inculcate this apathy, tell us that since we are happy and con-
tented, we ought to be indifferent to all the rest of the human race ;
if this sentiment is really serious, and not a mere concealment of
enmity to the patriots, it is despicable, it is unworthy of any one
who wears the form of man. According to these, a wise nation
ought to stifle all the finer feelings of human nature, it ought to
have no charity but for itself; base selfishness should be every
thing ; and generosity, patriotism, liberty, independence, empty
and ridiculous words. Such sentiments may become the wretch

to be subjected to the peeviahness or oppression of the parent state, if
they thought themselves exposed to such treatment, they might renounce
their allegiance, claim independence, and apply to any foreign common-
wealth for aid." These are the very words of one of the ablest and most
strenuous advocates for Great Britain. It entered the head of no one at
the time to argue that nothing would justify the revolt of the colony.
Our declaration of independence begins with laying down principles which
were universally agreed to as self evident. From the nature of the case,
the colony must be permitted to judge whether it has been abused or not :
it would be ridiculous to allow nothing more than an appeal to the oppres-
sor. When all hope of redre&s has vanished, they may lawfully take up
arms, and any nation, according to Vattel, may lawfully assist them, al-
though it would not be lawful to assist a revolted province : the colony
may " appeal to the world for the rectitude of its intentions." It would
be icsulting to any man of common sense to attempt to prove that the
American colonies have not had ample cause of complaint. It has never
been denied, Spain has never condescended to say more than that theso
are her subjects, her slaves, and that she has a right to oppress or murder
them according to her pleasure. It is also admitted that when the] parent
state could not protect itself, but was obliged to abandon the colonies to
themselves for a time, it could never regain its authority without the
consent of the colonies. Never was there a more complete dereliction
than that of the Spanish colonies for at least three years. The existing
governments were every where mere usurpations, for the source from
which their power was derived, had been dried up, and their responsibilitjr
had entirelv ceased.


who will not spare from his superabundant store^ a mite to prevent
his neighbour from perishing ; but there are but few Amercians, I
believe, who harbor meanness like this. It does not follow that
because these sentiments are indulged, we must become quixotic,
and involve ourselves in war, on account of mere religious or po-
litical opinions. I am no advocate of French fraternization, but
I am not, therefore, to condemn every generous feeling that glows
in the bosoms of those who wish well to the patriot cause. I would
wish to see our conquests, the conquests of reason and benevo-
lence, and not of arms. There is nothing to forbid our feeling a
generous sympathy with the patriots of South America ; a contemp-
tuous indifference on our part, would be regarded by them as
reproachful to our national character, and would lay the founda-
tion of lasting hatred.

It does not follow, however, that we should make a common
cause with them, and go to war with Spain on their account ; this
might injure us both. Although I should not fear the result, it
might be more prudent to leave the colonies to contend with
Spain, without interference, and I am convinced no European na-
tion will interfere in her favor. This country has no reason to be
afraid of a war, but at the same lime none to desire it. Peace is
our true policy, though not carried so far as to render our steps
timid and cowardly. We ought not to be prevented from doing
what may be agreeable to us, and to our interest, by apprehension
of unjust and unlawful violence from the universe; we are now
strong enough to pursue any just and reasonable deportment, as
respects ourselves and others, without dread of consequences.
What then ought we to do? I say at once, to establish official re^
lotions with the republics of La Plata and Chili.* No nation
will have any just right to be offended with this. Our own prac-
tice, as well as the practice of every other country, considers the

♦ The nature of these relations, must depend on circumstances. Our
right to establish them arises from our right to trade with thtin, \rhich we
have distinctly asserted. It does not follow that we should send or receive
& minister ; consuls or consuls-generals might be sent and received.


existence of a goveriimcut, de facto, as sutRcieut for all purposes of
official communications. We never hesitated to estahlisli relations
with the revolutionary governments of France, neither did any of
the European powers. In the great commonwealth of nations,
each one has a right to choose the government or governments,
with which to establish such relations; other nations have no more
right to take offence at this, than one citizen has with another for
the choice of his associate. The recognition of the republic of La
Plata, does not imply that we must make war against Spain, or aid
the republic in case it should be invaded. It is not inconsistent
with the strictest neutrality ; most certainly it is no act of hostility.
There is not the least danger that Spain will seriously consider it a
cause of war ; she may bluster, but she holds too deep a stake, to
think of striking the first blow ; as long as she possesses colonies
in America, if there is ever a war between us, it must commence
on our side.

It is as respects ourselves that we should have any hesitation
in acknowledging the hidependence of La Plata, and not because
we should infringe any rights of Spain. There is nothing in the
laws of nations to forbid it; and she can lay but poor claim to our
friendship. The questions we should ask in this affair, are these :
Are the republics just mentioned, of such a character as that we
should let ourselves down by a treaty of amity with them ? What
is the extent of their territory, the number of their population, the
nature of their governments ? Are they capable of defending them-
selves? Is Spain in possession of any part of their territory?
These, and other questions, might be put to satisfy ourselves, be-
fore we venture to take them by the hands as friends. This course
will be found to accord perfectly wilh our principles and practice.
What, for instance, was our conduct to Spain herself? Where
there happens to be at the same time, in the same empire, two or
more governments, we may treat with all, or any one, or none ; but
this is a matter which concerns only ourselves. To treat with all
would subject us to great inconvenience, to treat with any one
would have the appearance of partiality ; for our own sake, there-
fore, the best course would be to acknowledge none of them.
Thus, when the whole Spanish monarchy was actually split into

Vol. II. U


three parts, king Joseph on the throne, tlie cortez endeavouring
to expel him, and the colonics setting up for themselves, our go-

''Vernment declined acknowledging any of these parties. When
the cortez prevailed, we received the minister of Ferdinand, and
acknowledged the government, de facto; but we declined receiving
the minister of the colonies for two reasons ; first, because the con-
test was not yet properly at an end, therefore from motives of pru-
dence, we could not think of forming a compact which might prove
to be ineffectual ; secondly, because the existing governments
might not have been of such respectability as that we could place
ourselves on a footing with them, consistently with the respect
due to ourselves. But when these causes ceased, the reason for
our not establishing relations would cease also, if we should regard
them as not disreputable to us. The different provinces of South
America have not made a common cause, and from their distance,
it is impossible they could act together. Mexico, Grenada, Vene-
zuela, La Plata, Chili, have all declared themselves, in the most
formal manner, separate and independent governments ; should any
of them, therefore, succeed in expelling the Spanish authorities,
and in establishing governments, de factor in pursuance of our own
practice and principles, we may venture to establish relations with
them, provided we are satisfied that there is a sufficient character
and stability to justify us in doing so consistently with prudence.
A revolted province, notoriously incapable of maintaining itself,
ought not to be treated with, but an independent nation notoriously
capable of maintaining itself, ought to be respected. Yet we have
a right to receive and hear the mission even of a revolted province,
without violating the laws of nations. What more common than
for the revolted subjects, or the deposed prince of one nation, to
fly to another and to be openly and publicly received ? Who ever
heard of a sovereign forbidding all nations from holding any in-
tercourse with his revolted subjects, on pain of violating the laws
of nations ? The strictest neutrality is not violated by affording
shelter and protection, much less by the exchange of civilities, or
the establishment of official relations, for the convenience of com-
mercial intercourse. Is all intercourse or relation forbidden, or
some particular kind only ? For instance, no one ever thought


that the mere Irading with a revolted colony, or province, was an
offence ; or that this would be good cause of capture ; and if it be
lawful to trade, is it not lawful to establish such understanding
with the temporary, or local authorities, as may be necessary for
the regulation of such trade ? May we not have resident agents
for this purpose ? May we not receive theirs in turn, and may we
not, if we think it adviseable, enter into verbal or written stipula-
tions to regulate this intercourse ? Whether such agents should
be called consuls, or ministers, or commissioners ; whether they
enter into stipulations or treaties of amity and commerce or not,
is of no importance.

Are there any of the American republics with which we can
with safety enter into otficial relations, or form treaties of amity
and commerce ? The United Provinces of La Plata are undoubt-
edly such. For seven years they have had complete and undis-
turbed possession of their country — no attempt has been made, or
is likely to be made, to subdue them ; and after this lapse of time,
if Spain were to attempt it, she could be considered in no other
light than that of a»i invader. We look only to the government dt
facto ; the maxim of Spain, once a colony always a colony, is one
which she must settle with the colonies as well as she can ; for us
it is enough that there is in La Plata a complete expulsion of the
Spanish authorities, and an existing government. It will not be
pretended by the most extravagant advocates of Spain, that be-
cause she has revolted colonies elsewhere, which she is trying to
subdue, that those whose subjugation she is too weak to attempt, must
await the result of tlie contest. According to ihis reasoning, while
Spain continues to hold a single inch of land in America, the co-
lonies must still be considered in a state of revolt.

Consistently, therefore, with the strictest neutrality, we may ac-
knowledge La Plata, at least, as an independent state. By this
simple act we will ensure to ourselves the lasting friendship of all
the patriots of South America, whose feelings must be in unison
with their brethren of La Plata. It will inspire confidence in all
who are engaged in the contest, it will animate every patriot with
a new zeal, it will bestow a respectability upon the cause in their
own eyes, which will cheerfully unite all hearts in support of their

U 2


independence. Such was the feeling which the recognition of our
independence produced. As the natural head of
America, it will instantly increase our importance in the eyes of
the world. Spain may be induced at last to put a stop to the hor-
rid effusion of human blood, and renounce an undertaking in which
SHE CAN NEVER PREVAIL. An understanding with the patriot
governments of South America, will also enable us to make such
arrangements', as may put a stop to many practices and abuses, in
which our character as a nation is deeply interested.*

I have thus, sir, taken a rapid glance at a subject, highly im-
portant to the present and future interests of this country. In
common with my fellow-citizens, 1 give my warmest wishes for the
success of the patriot cause ; but, at the same time, value too
highly the real happiness of my country, to put it to hazard by
rash and inconsiderate measures. Scarcely any period of our his-
tory ever called for a more wise and deliberate judgment and en-
lightened foresight, than the one now fast approaching. Happily
for us there prevails at this juncture a degree of harmony among
our citizens on political subjects, much greater than at any period
since the establishment of our constitution, and we have a wise


to our immortal Washington to achieve the independence of one
half of America, and I most sincerely hope, it may be yours to ac-
knowledge the independence of the other.

♦ The^ practice of fitting out vessels in our ports is here alluded to.





or THE


HONOURABLE fame is the jewel which mortals prize above
existence itself, and which it is their duty to defend above every
earthly good, however great and valuable. The government of
Spain has charged the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, before
the nations of the world, with perfidy and rebellion, and has de-
nounced as perfidious and rebellious, the memorable declaration of
independence of the 9th of July, 1816, by the national congress of
Tucuman ; imputing to them ideas of anarchy, and intentions to
introduce Seditious principles into other nations, at the very mo-
ment of soliciting their friendship, and the recognition of this me-
morable act, in order to be ranked among them. The first among
Ihe most sacred duties of the national congress is to do away so
foul an imputation, and to justify the cause of their country, by
publishing to the world the motives and the cruelties which im-
pelled to the declaration of independence. This is not a submis-
sion which concedes to any one, the right to dispose of a condition
purchased by America with torrents of blood, and every species
of sacrifice and endurance. It is a duty of imperious obligation
which it owes to its wounded honour, and to the respect due to

other nations.

U 3


Wc shall waive all discussion with respect to the right of conquest,
papal grants, and other titles by which the Spaniards have supported
their authority : it is unnecessary for us to recur to principles which
may give rise to theoretic disputes, or to questions which have
found advocates. We appeal to facts, which form a lamentable
contrast between the sufferings endured by us, and the tyranny
of the Spaniards. We shall expose to view the frightful abyss,
into which these provinces were about to be precipitated had not
the wall of their emancipation been interposed. We shall give
reasons, the soundness of which no rational being can question,
unless it be his aim to persuade a nation to renounce for ever all
idea of felicity, and adopt for its system, ruin, opprobrium, and
shameful acquiescence. We shall exhibit this picture to the
world, that no one may contemplate it, without being deeply affec-
ted with the same feelings that belong to ourselves.

From the moment the Spaniards took possession of these coun-
tries, they thought only of securing their power of exterminating
and degrading. Their systems of devastation were immediately
set on foot, and were continued without intermission for three hun-
dred years. They began by assassinating the incas of Peru, and
they afterwards practised tiie same upon the other chiefs who fell
into their power. The inhabitants of the country, attempting to
repel these ferocious invaders, became victims to fire and sword,
by reason of the inferiority of their arms ; while their cities and
villages were consigned to the flames, every where applied without
pity or discrimination.

The Spaniards then placed a barrier to the increase of the po-
pulation of the country; they prohibited by vigorous laws the en-
trance of strangers into it, and in latter times they opened it to the
immoral, and to convicts cast out of the peninsula. Neither the vast
but beautiful deserts, formed here by exterminating the natives ; nor
the benefit which might accrue to Spain herself, by the cultivation
of plains, fertile as they are extensive; nor the existence of miner-
als, the richest and most abundant of the globe ; nor the attraction
of innumerable productions, some until then unknown, others
precious from their intrinsic value, and capable of animating in-
dustry, and enlivening connncrcc, carrying the one to its highest


pitch, and the olhei tothc utmost extent of opulence; nor, in fine,
the unceasing exertions necessary to keep the fairest regions of
the earth submerged in wretchedness, had sufficient influence to
change the dark and portentous policy of the court of Madrid.
From one city to another of this country, there are hundreds of
leagues lying waste and uninhabited. Entire nations have disap-
peared, buried under the ruins of mines, or perishing in an atmos-
phere poisoned with antimony, under the diabolical institution of
the mitas. Neither the lamentations of all Peru, nor the energetic
representations of the most zealous ministers, have been sufficient
to put a stop to this relentless extermination.

The science of working mines, regarded with indifference and
neglect, has remained without undergoing those improvements
common to other nations in an enlightened age; thus rudely
wrought, the richest have disappeared, either by the dilapidation
of excavated hills, or by the influx of water. Other rare and val-
uable productions of the country, have remained in the great store-
house of nature, without having excited the attention and zeal of
the government; and if at any time an enlightened individual pre-
sumed to publish these advantages, he was sure to be reprehended
by the court, and compelled to be silent, lest, possibly, a diminu-
tion of the demand for some of the productions of Spain might

It was forbidden to teach us the liberal sciences ; we were only
permitted to learn the Latin grammar, the philosophy of the
schools, civil and ecclesiastical jurisprudence. The viceroy Don
Joaquin Pino, gave much oftence by permitting a nautical school
at Buenos Ayres, and in compliance with a mandate of the court,
it was ordered to be shut ; while at the same time, it was strictly
prohibited to send our youth to Paris for the purpose of studying
the science of chemistry, in order to teach it on their return.

Commerce was ever a monopoly in the hands of the merchants
of the peninsula, and of the consignees, sent by them to America*
All public offices and employments belonged exclusively to Spa-

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Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeVoyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.2) → online text (page 23 of 25)